Ronaldo: Coca-Cola Is Not Only Threatened At Euro 2020
By Sunday Odiaka
Cristiano Ronaldo, already making very loud statements with his skillful display at the ongoing Euro 2020 game, was said to have knocked off $4billion from Coca-Cola’s market value. He reportedly replaced two bottles of Coca-Cola, placed in front of him with water, during a pre-match press conference. There are however counter-claims that the share price of Coca-Cola had already fallen before Ronaldo’s action. “Ronaldo’s snub was embarrassing for Coca-Cola…, but not the financial hammer blow it might have seemed…,” notes a report cited in www.cityam.com. Another online report, reads, “The company’s shares collapsed not only because of Ronaldo’s snub-they handed out dividends on the same day and that usually results in a sharp price drop.” Coca-Cola is an official sponsor of Euro 2020. The sponsorship deal, reportedly, first signed up to sponsor UEFA European football’s premier national team tournament in 1988, gives her opportunities to have her products front and centre at press conferences involving star names. “Sponsors, SportsBusiness, reportedly notes, pay about 30 euros ($36 million) to align themselves with the tournament.
The Juventus super-star did not explicitly state why he possibly put Coca-Cola in a panic mood. Available reports however, revealed that as a health-conscious star, he maintains a strict diet and fitness which include avoiding high-calorie products. “Cristiano Ronaldo does not drink Coca-Cola-the same is true for his counterpart Lionel Messi.., reports sportsfila.com. In another report ascribed to him in www.insider.com, he describes his reaction when Cristiano Jr; his son, drinks the beverage, “I’m hard with him sometimes because he drinks Coca-Cola and Fanta sometimes, and I’m pissed with him.”
Expectedly, Ronaldo’s action perfectly sits well with some healthy lifestyles campaigners. It is equally turning into big wins for competition. The World Health Organisation and Evian backed him, perhaps to emphasize the importance of staying fit and healthy through drinking water. Evian, owned by Danone, a French multinational corporation, tweeted, in www.prweek.com, along with a clip of the incident, “Couldn’t have said it better ourselves!” Caroline Cerny, Alliance Lead at Obesity Health Alliance, equally opines, in www.mirror.co.uk, “It’s great to see a role model like Cristiano Ronaldo reject Coca Cola for water, setting a positive example for young fans and showing his disdain for a cynical marketing attempt to link him with a sugary drink.”
Coca-Cola, before Ronaldo’s snub, has been consistently accused of producing sugary beverages whose effects include high blood pressure, inflammation, diabetes, fatty liver disease. “Coke, Marion Nestle, a nutrition professor and author of Food Politics, argues, in healthand.time.com, promises to get people moving [but] diverts[s] attention from the caloric effects of sodas. Erin Coates, a nutritionist at Cleaveland Clinic, however counters, in feeds.aarp.org, “an occasional diet soft drink won’t kill you, but a daily-or even an every-other-day-habit may wreak havoc on your taste buds, making it harder for you to lose or maintain a healthy weight.”
Some netizens, however, accused the Portuguese soccer star of hypocrisy, following the re-emergence of some old ads starring him. The advertisement reportedly shows him superimposed on Coke cans branded in simplified Chinese. “Ronaldo came once to a breakfast with a Coke in his hands,” Jan Aage Fjortoft, former footballer, reportedly, recounts a story that his compatriot Ole Gunnar Solskajer told him. Interestingly, the brand of water which Ronaldo purportedly used in encouraging people to drink water in order to maintain a healthy lifestyle was actually produced by Coca-Cola. “And the bottle of water he held up instead? That brand is also part of Coca-Cola,” claims a report in www.cityam.com.
Coca-Cola, looking at available reports, consistently repelled attacks on its reputation. It is, however, very clear that Ronaldo’s snub is becoming a fad as well as a very serious threat to Coca-Cola’s market value. It might even result in drastic revenue setbacks. Some renowned players and coaches are putting up similar inappropriate displays. Manuel Locatelli, Italian star, reportedly placed down his bottle of water before placing two bottles of Coca-Cola out of view. Luis Enrique, Spain boss, boldly directs, in www.mirror.co.uk, “It’s Coca Cola Zero. It’s the sponsor? Don’t drink CoCa Cola, kids.” Paul Pogba, a practicing Muslim, perhaps, to disassociate himself from alcohol, further removed a bottle of Heineken beer, during a post-match press conference. Heineken became official Beer Partner for the tournament in 2019, replacing Carlsberg, EURO 2016 sponsors. The beer giant equally extended its UEFA Champions League partnership for another 3 year cycle, 2021 until 2024. Heineken’s sponsorship portfolio further includes Rugby World Cup, Formula One, Formula E and Heineken Champions Cup, among others.
It is equally not in doubt that Ronaldo’s action, on and off the pitch, must garner significant traction especially on social media. He is, reportedly, the first celebrity to hit half a billion figures across prominent social media platforms, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. In Nigeria, Ronaldo is clearly pulling cult-following. “Ronaldo is now a cult hero among young talents and they will strive to emulate his style,” Wale Amos, a computer analyst, confirms, in thenationonlineng.net. David Adeleke, Nigerian hip-hop star, popularly called Davido, also proudly admits, in www.goal.com, “I’m a massive fan of Ronaldo…” Davido is said to be Ronaldo’s 376th follower on Instagram. The Juventus super-star is equally nicknamed Ororo which means groundnut oil, in Yoruba language. “We call him Ororo because he is slippery and fluid in the field. It is difficult to hold him as he is everywhere,” Gbenga Ashiru, a student, reportedly explains.
The increasing media consumption rate in Nigeria will equally shore up football fans’ reactions to whatever is going on at Euro 2020. Recall that some media organisations secured the right to air the game, thereby giving football enthusiasts in Nigeria enough opportunities to follow thrilling actions therein, including Ronaldo’s snub of Coca-Cola. “Media consumption rate in Nigeria, according to marketingedge.com.ng, is believed to be on the rise…” The publication equally notes, “the rising popularity of ICT across the nation over the past decade and half has had a major impact on the way Nigerian consumers access media on a daily basis.” Another online report further reveals, “…Individuals spend an average of 4.05 hours daily using the Internet via any device, and add another 3.02 hours on social media via any device.” Interestingly, there is an increase in spread of fabricated stories in the midst of the increasing media usage in Nigeria.
From the foregoing, Ronaldo is not only enjoying local and global appeal. He is clearly proving that his on-and-off-the-pitch actions, if completely underestimated, could harm any firm or brand. A futuristic company like Coca-Cola, with very strong footing in Nigeria, therefore, must not leave anything to chance. The iconic firm must not only listen to the voice of renowned celebrities like Ronaldo but every other consumer. Coca-Cola can also use scientific findings by experts like Coates, cited above, in setting its records very straight, especially how it has been producing and sustaining its market shares with healthy products. It must equally properly explain how it has been driving its market presence and growth through the production of highly purified water. In short, the fact that Ronaldo used its brand in encouraging people to drink water is an amazing opportunity in connecting deeply with consumers. Furthermore, there are opportunities to use the tournament in turning some key participants like Stanislav Cherchesov into brand advocates. The Russia boss, while facing the media, enjoyed a bottle of coke, clearly demonstrating that he was not moved by Ronaldo’s press conference stunt.
Odiaka, a media practitioner, writing from Lagos, can be reached through: firstname.lastname@example.org